Brake, the road safety charity, has drawn up some excellent advice for driving during the winter.
Weather can be unpredictable and turn quickly, making roads treacherous. Ice, snow, heavy rain and fog significantly increase the risks on roads. Stopping distances can double in the wet and increase ten-fold in ice and snow, and if you can’t see clearly, you can’t react to hazards. Driving in bad weather can be lethal.
Brake urges drivers to follow the A, B, C of staying safe in winter and bad weather conditions.
If possible, avoid driving in snow and other treacherous conditions. Never set off when it’s snowing heavily or if it’s forecast to snow, and avoid driving if you possibly can in other bad conditions like fog, heavy rain and ice. Consider alternatives like public transport. If you drive to work, speak to your employer in advance about home-working arrangements when the weather is bad, especially if you live in a rural area prone to flooding or snow.
Even if you avoid setting off in dangerous weather conditions, you could get caught out, so be prepared by:
- ensuring your vehicle is well-maintained through an up-to-date MOT, regular service, and regular walk-round checks by you.
- regularly checking tyres to ensure they’re in good condition and have a tread depth of at least 3mm to be safe in the wet.
- making sure there is anti-freeze in your radiator and windscreen washer bottle.
- keeping an ice-scraper and de-icer in your vehicle at all times in winter.
- packing a winter driving kit in case of emergency. This might include a torch; cloths; a blanket and warm clothes; food and drink; first-aid kit; spade; warning triangle; and high-visibility vest.
- always take a well-charged phone in case of emergencies, but don’t be tempted to use it when driving.
Car batteries are more likely to die in winter, so take steps to ensure yours doesn’t. If your car battery is old (more than five years) or there is a sign of it struggling to start the car, get it checked by your garage and replaced if needed.
Clear ice, snow and condensation completely from your windscreen and all windows before setting off. Clear snow off the roof of your vehicle too, as it might fall and obscure your vision during your journey.
Check forecasts and plan your route carefully. In bad weather, major roads are more likely to be cleared and gritted. Allow plenty of time for potential hold-ups. The Met Office provides up to date forecasts, and issues warnings when severe weather is likely.
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